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Senate May Vote on President’s Jobs Bill Today

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Barack Obama held another news conference at the White House to pressure Congress to back his $447 billion jobs package, but the Senate is expected to vote to reject it as soon as today.

“People really need help right now. Our economy really needs a jolt right now,” Obama said. Obama called 9 percent unemployment an “emergency” and challenged Senators to explain why they oppose each individual piece of his plan.

He said Republicans should love this plan.

“This jobs bill would cut taxes for virtually every worker or small-business owner in America,” Obama said.

A procedural vote on the president’s proposed package of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and aid to state and local governments could come up for a Senate vote as soon as today at the request of the GOP. The vote will not be on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) version, which replaced Obama’s tax hikes on various industries with a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced he would force a vote today, but as of 1 p.m., it was unclear how the vote would be structured. Reid said on the floor that it could either come up as a regular amendment with an artificially set 60-vote threshold for adoption or as a motion by McConnell to suspend cloture on the pending China currency bill. If the earlier vote to invoke cloture, or beat back a filibuster, on the currency bill were suspended, McConnell would be permitted to offer an amendment that contained the original text of Obama’s jobs plan.

A two-thirds vote would be required to pull off the procedural maneuver to suspend cloture, a threshold that almost certainly will not be broken. However, by forcing even a procedural vote on the text of Obama’s bill as the amendment, Republicans may be able to show there is not enough support for the measure to pass it.

Democrats plan to push next week for the altered jobs bill that is paid for by a 5.6 percent tax surcharge on incomes of more than $1 million. Reid altered the taxes to millionaires to pay for the proposal in an effort to unite Democrats, some of whom objected to eliminating tax breaks on oil companies or on people making more than $250,000 a year.

Obama has also summoned Senate Democratic leaders to the White House for a 5:30 p.m. meeting on the jobs bill.

In his press conference, Obama noted that economists have said that growth and jobs will increase with his package and could falter without it — and warned in particular of economic problems in Europe as having the potential to send the United States into another downturn.

Asked why he has been going across the country instead of reaching out to the GOP — Obama said he keeps getting rebuffed by Republicans who prefer to score political points.

“That’s been true over the past two and a half years,” he said.

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